Reel Reviews

Film Reviews by a Real Person, Not a Critic

The Phantom of the Opera

Title: The Phantom of the Opera
Year: 2004
Director: Joel Schumacher
Starring Cast: Emmy Rossum, Gerard Butler, Patrick Wilson, Natasha Richardson
Rated: PG-13

Reel Reviews Rating:

Sad to say, I have not yet seen The Phantom of the Opera onstage.

I knew the basic plot and of course the famous songs such as “Music of the Night”, but I haven’t had the chance to experience it live.

When I heard last year that a movie was made based on the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, I thought to myself, well, at least I’ll get an idea of what it was like.

My parents and sister had gone to New York a few years back and saw Phantom, so naturally when the movie version came out they went out to see it.

Strangely, my mom said that she preferred the movie version better, namely because she was able to follow along easier and because she could see the actors’ faces.

They bought the DVD a few months ago, and this Christmas I was at their house so I got the chance to watch it.

When I looked at the box it came in, a sense of disbelief suddenly filled me when I read the name of the director: Joel Schumacher.

Oh shit.

This is the same guy that nearly destroyed the Batman franchise with Batman Forever and Batman and Robin.

How good can this movie be?

Then again, Schumacher did direct The Lost Boys, one of my all time favorite vampire movies. Besides, how bad can he screw it up?

The answer: not bad.

Not bad at all.

The movie opens in Paris 1917, with the scene of an auction taking place in what appears to be a dilapidated opera house. There are cobwebs on the ceilings and the seats look shabby. An old man sits in a wheelchair, listening quietly as the auctioneer peddles off artifacts from the opera house. Across from this man stands an old woman, and from the knowing looks they give each other, it’s understood that they share a past, something they experienced in the opera house that changed their lives.

Suddenly you’re thrust 47 years further in the past, to 1870. You see the Paris Opera House in all its glory: gleaming chandeliers, gorgrous velvet seats, gold trim everywhere. There is an opera troupe rehearsing onstage. Two gentlemen have recently taken over the Opera House and are inspecting their new investment when they learn it came with a little surprise- a Phantom.

The Phantom is a mysterious “ghost” who terrorizes the Opera House and the opera troupe. When his demands aren’t met, he disrupts their performances. A musical genius, the Phantom has also been mentoring Christine Daae (Emmy Rossum), a young chorus girl, molding her into a star. Over the years the Phantom has fallen in love with his protege, and he will stop at nothing to get her to the top. But what happens when Christine falls in love with Raoul, the handsome young Vicomte de Chagny? You’ll just have to watch the movie to find out.

Since I haven’t seen the musical, I can’t use it as a basis of comparison with the film. Then again, even if I have, it wouldn’t be fair to compare the two. Even though they have the same plot, same characters, etc., movies and musicals are made for different audiences, and audiences expect different things from each. Therefore, I’ll just review the movie itself.

In short, my fears of it being a Schumacher film were unfounded. I thought it was fantastic. The story was beautiful, the sets were amazing, and I loved the singing. I couldn’t believe that Emmy Rossum did her own singing. Hell, I saw her play Jake Gyllenhall’s girlfriend in The Day After Tommorow, so I figured she was an actress, not a singer.

I loved Gerard Butler as the Phantom. Not only did I think, “Whoa, the Phantom’s hot!” when I first saw him, but I thought that he played the part well. And although Butler is more of an actor than a singer, I thought that he sang wonderfully. Minnie Driver is hilarious as La Carlotta, the haughty, tempermental diva. And no, that’s not really her singing those supremely high soprano notes. In fact, I think she’s the only one who didn’t do her own singing in the movie, but it’s understandable considering she’s not a real opera singer.

I highly recommend The Phantom of the Opera. If you’re a big fan of the musical, don’t fall into the trap of comparing it with the movie, or comparing say, Emmy Rossum to Sarah Brightman. Appreciate the film and musical for their own worth.

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January 2, 2006 - Posted by | Film Adaptation, Musical, Romance


  1. I’ll have to get this. I saw Phantom in Chicago when I lived there and it was very good, though like your mom, you don’t get the nice framing or close-ups on a stage version. The soundtrack is so good, and with your thumbs up, I’m looking forward to this one.

    Comment by Steve, Head Sheep | January 2, 2006 | Reply

  2. Steve- it’s a really good movie. I recently got the Special Edition soundtrack for the movie. It’s a 2 CD set with pretty much all the music from the film. There’s a similar special edition set for the original Broadway recording.

    Comment by Toni | January 4, 2006 | Reply

  3. Toni. I guess I’m going to be biased… but the musical rocked my world. The movie… it was bland. Maybe I had a higher standard for the film.. I thought, being a movie, it would be able to do more cool things and special effects and whatnot… but the musical, even though it was performed live, had much more jazz, much more sparkle and special effects. A question I have though… I know the chick sang the songs herself.. but am I right to doubt that she wasn’t singing “live” when they filmed it? The characters who played the phantom and Christine were superb.. their voices were moving, and even though I had no money and had to sit waaaaay in the back, their presence on stage was deeply felt.

    Comment by Haemi | January 5, 2006 | Reply

  4. Haemi- I understand what you mean. I’ve seen Les Mis onstage, and I’m sure if a movie musical were made, it’ll be hard not to compare the two.

    To answer your question about whether or not Emmy Rossum is singing “live”. Let me put it this way. When you watch a movie- any movie, EVERY SINGLE WORD you ever hear from anyone is dubbed. The actors film the action sequences and say their lines, but then they go into the studio and dub over their own voices. I guess it’s to improve sound quality. After all, if they actually filmed say, two characters talking at a noisy club, we’d never hear what they were saying.

    Sometimes when they go in the studio, there are last minute changes to their lines and they end up saying something slightly different, or a certain line is given to another character. As a result, at times the actor’s lips don’t sync properly with what he or she is saying. If you go to Movie Mistakes, you’ll find that this is a common mistake caught by viewers.

    Hell, even the sounds you hear aren’t what you think they are. Perhaps you’ve heard of foley artists? They handle the sound effects in movies. Here’s more info about them.

    Therefore, that was Emmy Rossum singing as Christine, but recorded in a studio.

    Comment by Toni | January 5, 2006 | Reply

  5. I did love both the musical and the movie, and I agree that movie versions are better since you can see the actors up close and get a feel of their facial expressions and stuff. So far though, none of the musical-movies that I’ve seen (Phantom, Rent) have been quite as excellent as Chicago. I think it’s because Chicago took the concept and twisted it into something suitable for a movie, while Rent and Phantom simply put the musical on the big screen. All three were excellent, but Chicago is on another level. If you enjoyed Phantom and haven’t seen Rent yet, check it out!

    Comment by Brooke | January 7, 2006 | Reply

  6. Brooke- I haven’t seen the live version of Chicago so I can’t make a comparison to the movie.

    I haven’t seen Rent either (live or the movie). I do want to go see it.

    How about the Producers? I heard it’s not doing well. I wonder why? I mean, you have the same two guys in the movie doing the musical. How differnt can it be?

    Comment by Toni | January 8, 2006 | Reply

  7. […] To me, V for Vendetta draws elements from The Phantom of the Opera, Fight Club, Brazil , and 1984. You have the relationship between a young girl and a strange, somewhat unhinged man in a mask (Phantom); using violence and anarchy to change society (Fight Club); and an innocent person hunted down by a totalitarian, absolutist government (Brazil and 1984). This film (and the graphic novel) takes those elements and blends them nicely in an intriguing story that has audiences cheering for the anti-hero. […]

    Pingback by No Face for Film » Blog Archive » V for Vendetta | March 20, 2006 | Reply

  8. dear emmy you have a beatiful voice and i like your hair. from sydney

    Comment by Sydney Sternfeld | June 12, 2006 | Reply

  9. Phantom of the Opera is a classic and is one of the best plays ever–;

    Comment by Titanium Earrings : | October 29, 2010 | Reply

  10. i love classic operatic arias and Phantom Of The Opera is one of the best musical *’;

    Comment by Dry Scalp Treatment | November 17, 2010 | Reply

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